It may sound futuristic, but cloning cannabis is fairly common in the industry. Through specific techniques, it's possible to replicate the exact genetic material into a new growing plant, thus maintaining the same concentration of cannabidiol, THC, terpenes, and other components, across many cultivars.
Companies looking to establish brand quality take advantage of this practice, ensuring a steady and uniform product created from homogeneous crops and extending successful high-quality plants' longevity.
Although cloning is mostly known in marijuana cultivation, hemp producers benefit from it as well since the plants are closely related cousins. Unfortunately, hemp is also susceptible to some of the method's pitfalls—granted, something good habits can avoid.
Can you actually clone cannabis and hemp?
Yes, and the process is quite simple. Unlike regular farming, in which seeds are planted to produce a plant, cloning consists of cutting a mature plant's piece and replanting it to grow a new one. This process removes most of the genetic uncertainty that comes from a seed, which takes its genetic material from two plants—a "father" and a "mother"—effectively replicating its DNA.
For this reason, farmers are very selective when it comes to choosing the right plant to clone. After many seeding seasons, a time comes when the perfect one appears. One that grows the fastest, looks the strongest, smells the best, or yields the most. That's an ideal strain to clone.
What are the benefits of cloning hemp?
Apart from the obvious advantage of maintaining a uniform crop, cloning offers other benefits to farmers who practice it. One big perk is speed; cloned plants have the same age as the plant from where they were cut off, meaning their growing cycle is already fast compared to newly seeded plants. This speediness is especially evident in the first weeks.
Another perk is its cost-effectiveness. Farmers can get a lot more from harvesting cloned hemp than regular cultivation. Since the process is relatively inexpensive and quick to implement, producers can focus on sustaining results rather than experimenting with different strains.
Are there any pitfalls to cloning hemp?
Of course, no system is perfect. In the case of cloning cannabis, producers are aware of some issues that may come up during cultivation. For example, some diseases can strike a particular crop that hasn't developed defenses due to genetic uniformity. After all, the plants are all basically the same and didn't get the opportunity to create resistance through generational changes. Luckily, hemp is known for being a very resilient plant, and this problem can be avoided by managing a proper pesticide program.
The lack of a taproot is another issue. Unlike seeded plants, cloned ones have flimsy roots that grow horizontally, providing low resistance to strong winds and inadequate absorption of nutrients. Though this circumstance can become a problem, farmers can easily avoid that by preventively choosing an optimal site for cultivation and keeping best-growing practices.
As Cannabis Tech details in this article, many techniques are still being developed, but cloning cannabis and hemp is not a new thing. Yet, it reveals how the plant was relegated unjustly to obscurity for so many years, despite traditional agricultural techniques working on it, showing how it's been part of human history for a long time. Today, it benefits the now expansive hemp industry a great deal.